Hola, Jolene Navarro checking in from the Texas Hill Country. My latest book is out in the wild. The heroine, Belle De La Rosa, is a busy single mother that is working hard to hold the family ranch together. She also volunteers to help her community. Like many of us, she has responsibilities that pull her in a ton of directions. It’s important that she has ways to reduce the stress of life. She rides horses along the beach but the thing that gives her the greatest joy is baking and cooking.
At the core of all these activities and hobbies is God. It’s taking the time to listen to him and share your thoughts. Some call it devotionals or prayers.
I have several go-to that I love: Reading, Yoga, Writing, Photography, Hiking and water – anything with water. Give me a balcony at the beach, river or lake where I can write, read, listen to music, do yoga and take pictures. Later I’ll go for a walk with my husband or family and friends. That is my perfect vacation.
I went on a hunt to see if these are things that science says are destressers. Through a few articles, I found five activists on all the list. I was happy to find I do most of them. There were four others I found interesting, but they were a hit and miss on the different list. One of those is the one my heroine uses the most, cooking and baking. A few others mentioned that I love were listening to music, writing, and gardening.
I love and practice four out of the top five.
If you are here then this is one you do. Findings by the University of Sussex show that reading a newspaper or book works better and faster than listening to music, going for a walk or sitting down with a cup of tea to calm frazzled nerves. So pick up a book and read it! They have discovered that listening to audio does the same for the brain as reading.
The next three are forms of movement. Our body and brains are created to move and to maintain balance we need it, so you should find a fun way to do it. Anxiety and Depression Association of America cites studies that find physical activity is effective at improving alertness and concentration. Moving improves overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress taken joy from life. You can dance alone in your house or with friends and family. Turn on that favorite song and just live in the moment of the rhythm.
Over and over again we find that yoga has so many benefits. Mental health is strongly linked to physical health. It forces you to sit still and be in the moment. It is the most powerful for me when I combine it with devotional time and prayers. I love yoga but this is the one I struggle with the most to make the time for. My sister is a yoga instructor and there are modifications to make it work for everyone.
This is my favorite. It has been the one thing that helps me keep my numbers (PB, Sugar, Cholesterol, and weight) under control. I still struggle with weight, but it’s better than before. Walking through nature settles me in ways that nothing else does. Thoreau extolled a few thousand times the virtues of walking in the wilds of nature. Since then psychologists have done the research to prove him right. Yes, interacting with nature has shown to reduce your stress from a busy, technology-rich world.
This is the one I have not done, but I imagine many of you do. My mother did and one of my good friends also knits. So does something else too that brings balance and feel-good hormones. She makes little blankets for kittens in shelters. It’s an organization called Comfort for Critters. Not only is it calming but she gets to plot and solve story problems. You might have read some of her books or seen Hallmark movies linked to her books. Maybe you watch a favorite movie on the Hallmark channel to unwind.
What are your favorite go-to when you need to slow down and find balance? If it’s reading you should try my lastest book. It’s the third in the Cowboys of Diomandback Ranch series.